What is A Marriage And Family Therapist?



Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) is a regulated term in some provinces in Canada and in the United States.  As a result, there are many MFTs in Alberta with significant training and expertise, who have met a provable level of education, training, and supervision.  Unfortunately, because Marriage and Family Therapy is not a regulated or licensed profession in Alberta, there are some therapists using the title 'Marriage and Family Therapist' or 'MFT' without any level of education, training or clinical practice skills.  To be sure your Marriage and Family Therapists has strong clinical skills be sure to ask if they have a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, and/or are a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist (RMFT).  RMFTs has met the criteria of the Canadian Association of Marriage and Family Therapists by proving they have achieved a certain level of education, demonstrated ethical clinical approaches, and completed extensive supervised practice.

Marriage and Family Therapists typically work with whole families, portions of families, or couples.  The are able to treat a variety of common relationship issues such as communication problems, parenting challenges, child development concerns, and couples issues.  MFTs may also use family dynamics to help treat and manage such issues such as depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia, cognitive loss due to aging, and chronic illness.  As RMFTs work from a relationship perspective, they are often able to assist entire family units to achieve change.


To be a registered Marriage and Family Therapist in Edmonton, a clinician must hold at least a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from a government accredited university.  A minimum grade of 'C' is required in all coursework.

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) accredits certain university programs in Canada and the United States.  A supervised practicum of no less than 300 client contact hours is a required element of the degree program.  Graduates from non-accredited programs may have to take additional coursework and training to achieve membership and accreditation in the AAMFT.  Coursework must include classes in marriage and family studies, marriage and family therapy, human development, professional ethics and research.  It is also possible to earn a certificate in Couples and Family Therapy studies which can be applied as a portion of meeting AAMFT certification.

Masters or Doctorate level graduates of a Marriage and Therapy Program must complete at least 1000 direct client service hours with 200 supervised hours over the following two years, under an AAMFT approved supervisor.  At least 100 of the hours must be individually supervised.

In the United States, the therapist must then pass either a state licensing exam or the National Examination for Marriage and Family Therapists as provided by the Association of Marital and Family Therapists.  In Canada they must be able to prove they have met the requirements to be a licensed clinician in an allied field of practice (e.g. psychologist, clinical social worker), and have the specific coursework and training associated with Marriage and Family Therapy.  The AAMFT is the accrediting body, while the CAMFT advocates for RMFT's in Canada.


A Marriage and Family Therapist in Edmonton will be able to show a copy of their Masters or Doctoral degree in Marriage and Family Therapy or a related field (e.g. psychology, counselling). 

A Registered Marriage and Family Therapist will also have a certification from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as a Clinical Fellow, and from the Canadian Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as a RMFT.